The number one thing in life should be to please your father. – NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, eulogizing fellow HOFer Moses Malone
BY NATURE, Man is an ungrateful creature. When you see water flowing uphill, it means that someone is repaying a kindness, says the Chinese proverb, which anyway applies universally. Our memories are so short, as to forget the profoundest of kindnesses as soon as we turn our head away from our benefactor, without so much as a thank you, or till next time.
Which is why, the only gratitude that we never stop repaying, in this ungrateful world that we live in, is to our mothers and fathers. The gift of existence, life and love is something we enjoy every day of our lives. Who better deserves recognition for this gift than the ones who brought us into this world? But it doesn’t stop there. Raising us, educating us, and giving us guidance as long as we need it, is the lifelong vocation of those tasked to be our parents after the Divine Creator.
Everything I am today (which really isn’t that much) I owe to my folks, and my father is a massive 50% of that team. All that society and culture asked of him was to be supporting cast to our heroic mom, provide the basic needs of life, and be there to discipline and admonish us when we strayed too far from the straight path (daang matuwid, a wink to Pres Noynoy). He was much more.
He didn’t need to be a benevolent provider, a constant supporter in everything I did, and a dependable friend throughout my childhood. But he was. He set aside time despite his myriad responsibilities and interests, stimulated our minds through reading and entertainment, and taught us the value of family and relationships for the rest of our lives.
He wasn’t that creative doing these things, but he didn’t really need to be. All we needed was a good example, and that was himself and our mother. We learned probably half of the realities of life through his work ethic, his love for his own family, and his personal values. As a son, I could not ask for anything more.
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The connection was bad, the long distance toll was not consumer-friendly, and my timing was less than ideal. But I was still able to get a greeting in to Dear Old Dad, who isn’t as sharp or fast as he once was, but is still as dashing and witty.
He and Mom were lunching with my Philippines-bound bros, I didn’t have much to say in the few minutes allotted, and as mentioned above, the connection was awful. But I was able to say the money-shot words : Happy birthday from Wellington Dad, from everyone here! I love you. I was cut off before I had a chance to hear his response, but even from 15,000 kilometers and half a world away, I could discern two things : the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye.
And that, my friends, was that.
Happy birthday Dad!